Sunday, November 26, 2017

Listening Habits: 10-11.2017

The first year-end lists of 2017 are already here, but for now we are going to turn our attention to the albums and songs that earned our appreciation in the last couple of months of the autumn and leave the task of figuring out our "Best of the Year" list for the end of December, as usual.

However I can already say with certainty that the two albums at the top of our autumn list have already booked their place in our 2017 Top 10, as both St. Vincent and Protomartyr have delivered killer albums that are not going to leave our headphones any time soon.

"Masseduction", St. Vincent’s fifth album, adapts and subverts the concept of modern pop music, as dance-floor friendly rhythms and sweet melodic interludes echo the sound of the pop charts but they are transformed through Annie Clark’s unique perspective into something beguiling and deeply personal.

Protomartyr continue to march on the post-punk path that pioneers like The Fall or Pere Ubu have laid down and they are showing no signs of slowing down as "Relatives In Descent", their fourth album, is another fine example of intense, vital rock ’n’ roll.

Other stand-out releases among the fine albums we’ve enjoyed recently include the triumphant return to action of The Dream Syndicate after 29 odd years with "How Did I Find Myself Here?" (see also our recent live review here), the resurfacing of The War On Drugs who continue to operate at the height of their powers with "A Deeper Understanding" and, last but not least, the astonishing, krautrock-influenced, psychedelic pop that Jane Weaver has concocted with "Modern Kosmology", her ninth solo work.

Here are our 16 favorite albums for October - November 2017:

Top 16 Albums

2.   Relatives In Descent - PROTOMARTYR   
3.   Modern Kosmology - JANE WEAVER
4.   How Did I Find Myself Here? - THE DREAM SYNDICATE
5.   A Deeper Understanding - THE WAR ON DRUGS
6.   Cry Cry Cry - WOLF PARADE
7.   ken - DESTROYER
8.   Moonshine Freeze - THIS IS THE KIT
9.   Weather Diaries - RIDE
10. Cost Of Living - DOWNTOWN BOYS
11. Electric Trim - LEE RANALDO
12. Offering - CULTS
14. Losing - BULLY
15. Visions Of A Life - WOLF ALICE

Top 15 Tracks

1.  The Architect - JANE WEAVER
2.  Moonshine Freeze - THIS IS THE KIT
3.  New York - ST. VINCENT
4.  My Children - PROTOMARTYR
5.  Cali - RIDE
7.   Up All Night - THE WAR ON DRUGS
8.   Valley Boy - WOLF PARADE
9.   Cover From The Sun - DESTROYER
10. I Took Your Picture - CULTS
11. Uncle Skeleton - LEE RANALDO
12. Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas) - DOWNTOWN BOYS
13. Feel the Same - BULLY
14. Beautifully Unconventional - WOLF ALICE

Jane Weaver - The Architect

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Live: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds @ Tae Kwon Do (Athens, November 16th, 2017)

"I am transforming, I am vibrating, look at me now!" sings Nick Cave during the climactic finale of "Jubilee Street" and I think these words are the best way to describe his formidable way of commanding the stage and, indeed, the whole of the packed Tae Kwon Do arena on Thursday night.

I had the pleasure of attending numerous Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds gigs over the years and each one has been a unique experience: the noisy chaos on the stage of Club 22 in September 1987, the triumphant return a couple years later at the historic Rodon Club, their first large scale performance in Athens at Lycabettus Theatre in the summer of 1990, their performance right before Nirvana at the muddy Reading Festival of 1992 and several more up to their previous show in Athens in 2008 (see our review here), when "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!" became our Album of the Year.

Given that their return to Athens comes right after the release of the band's most solemn album to date, the mournful "Skeleton Tree", it would be an easy mistake to make if you thought that this was going to be a more introverted, lower key performance. In fact, the presence of seven songs from this album on the set list did add a more melancholic mood in parts of the show, particularly at the beginning with "Anthrocene", "Jesus Alone" and "Magneto" opening the set, but the intensity we've come to expect whenever Nick Cave takes on a stage, gradually started building up by the fourth song, the slow-burning epic "Higgs Boson Blues", and by the time "From Her To Eternity" and "Tupelo" hit us with the force of a tornado, any thoughts of a quiet night out were quickly dismissed.

The balance between dark melody and menacing intensity was exemplary throughout the 15-song main set, which came full circle when tremendously powerful renditions of "Red Right Hand" and "Mercy Seat" led to the soulful "Distant Sky" and the sweet sadness of "Skeleton Tree".

However the best was yet to come. The three song encore started with Nick Cave jumping into the crowd during "The Weeping Song", walking all the way to the back of the crowded arena and ending up on the stands, from where he sang the rest of the song among the lucky fans and conducted the whole stadium to a clap-along!

Even more amazing was the brutal force of "Stagger Lee", with fans being invited to come on stage to participate to the climactic finale of the show, which came to an end with Nick Cave conducting his make-shift choir to the sad and beautiful melody of "Push The Sky Away"; a grand ending for a truly epic concert, the stuff of legends indeed!

Here is the complete set list of the show:

Check out below Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds performing "Jubilee Street" and "Skeleton Tree" live in Athens, at the Tae Kwon Do arena:

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street (live in Athens)

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree (live in Athens)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The 600th: Killer Tracks 2008 - 2017

This is Cool Music Central's 600th post since starting life on Blogger in March 2008! To make it a special one, I decided to dig deep into our past, go through all of our monthly and year-end "Best of" lists and piece together a playlist featuring all the songs that have taken the top spot over the years.

You can listen to the result of this endeavor on the Spotify playlist below, featuring 60 of our 65 Number Ones so far. This playlist will be updated in the coming months as we continue to present our "Listening Habits" lists, in order to include every top song in the 10 year history of this blog.

As we are getting closer to our ten year anniversary, you can expect a few more special lists like this one to celebrate the occasion. Although this 65-song playlist tells only a small part of the story so far, it is certainly indicative of the music we have been championing and obsessing about here in Cool Music Central.

Killer Tracks 2008 - 2017 (presented in reverse chronological order):
  • The Underside Of Power - ALGIERS
  • Hot Thoughts - SPOON
  • Shut Up Kiss Me - ANGEL OLSEN
  • Sun City Creeps - WOODS
  • Florian Saucer Attack - BLACK MOUNTAIN
  • The Wheel - PJ HARVEY
  • Snakeskin - DEERHUNTER
  • Why Does It Shake? - PROTOMARTYR
  • A Beautiful Woman - DERADOORIAN
  • Interference - HOLLY HERNDON
  • Lampshades On Fire - MODEST MOUSE
  • Pedestrian At Best - COURTNEY BARNETT
  • Disco//Very - WARPAINT
  • Feel - TY SEGALL
  • The Lottery - THE AFGHAN WHIGS
  • Satellites - EMA
  • Love Is To Die - WARPAINT
  • Full Of Fire - THE KNIFE
  • Sunray Venus - THROWING MUSES
  • In The Green Wild - JULIA HOLTER
  • Culturecide - PRIMAL SCREAM
  • Sacrilege - YEAH YEAH YEAHS
  • San Francisco - FOXYGEN
  • Fall Back - FACTORY FLOOR
  • Wet Blanket - METZ
  • Watch The Corners - DINOSAUR JR.
  • Ruin - CAT POWER
  • Oblivion - GRIMES
  • The Gravedigger’s Song - MARK LANEGAN BAND
  • I’m His Girl - FRIENDS
  • Bedroom Eyes - DUM DUM GIRLS
  • Gangsta - TUNE-YARDS
  • Future Crimes - WILD FLAG
  • The Glorious Land - PJ HARVEY
  • The Words That Maketh Murder - PJ HARVEY
  • Mirrorage - GLASSER
  • Ready To Start - ARCADE FIRE
  • Jail La La - DUM DUM GIRLS
  • Tell’em - SLEIGH BELLS
  • Bury Pts.1+3 - THE FALL
  • The Longest Shadows - HIGH PLACES
  • The Ghosts That Wake You - FOLLOW THAT BIRD!
  • Written In Reverse - SPOON
  • Ambling Alp - YEASAYER
  • Die Slow - HEALTH
  • Treat Me Like Your Mother - THE DEAD WEATHER
  • Black Hearted Love - PJ HARVEY & JOHN PARISH
  • Sacred Trickster - SONIC YOUTH
  • Help I’m Alive - METRIC
  • So Fine - TELEPATHE
  • The Step And The Walk - THE DUKE SPIRIT
  • Idle Hands - THE GUTTER TWINS
  • Dreams Old Men Dream - COLD WAR KIDS
  • Chrome's On It - TELEPATHE
  • Crawl - KINGS OF LEON
  • I Will Possess Your Heart - DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
  • Swords Of Truth - THESE NEW PURITANS
  • Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl) - NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS

Sunday, November 05, 2017

A Week to Remember: Thurston Moore Group / Austra / The Dream Syndicate, live @ Fuzz Club

Last week was certainly one to remember! Between Sunday, October 29th and Saturday, November 4th we had the pleasure of attending not one or two, but three excellent gigs at the Fuzz Club, in Athens. Take a look below at some of our best photos from these shows, as well as video highlights:

Thurston Moore Group (October 29th, 2017)

This was Thurston Moore's second solo visit in Athens with his current, all-star group, featuring James Sedwards, Debbie Googe and Steve Shelley (check out here the first one). This time the performance was part of the new Fraternity of Sound festival, featuring also in the same day experimental electronic sounds by ex-Coil member Drew McDowall, Zonal (a collaboration between Justin Broadrick and Kevin Martin, a.k.a The Bug) and Ben Frost.

Thurston Moore and his group played mostly songs from his latest solo work, the excellent "Rock n Roll Consciousness", including the non-album single "Cease Fire" which kicked-off the set and "Speak to the Wild", the lead track off his previous album "The Best Day". For the encore of the nearly 80-minute performance, the band revisited "Ono Soul" from "Psychic Hearts", transforming it into an extended, adventurous guitar jam.

Check out below Thurston Moore Group in "Smoke of Dreams" from their performance at Fraternity of Sound festival:

Thurston Moore Group - Smoke of Dreams, live @ Fuzz Club (Oct. 29th, 2017)

Austra / Ela Minus (November 3rd, 2017)

Coming to this weekend's happenings, on Friday we enjoyed Austra's first ever club gig in Athens in a set that covered all three of their albums so far. The electropop outfit led by Katie Stelmanis had previously paid us a visit as part of the line-up of 2015's Plissken Festival, but this time, at their own gig and in a more fitting environment for their sound, they were able to give a truly remarkable performance, where Katie's outstanding voice shined in all its glory!

Austra's show opened by the upbeat synthpop of Ela Minus, the stage name of Gabriela Jimeno from Colombia, who brought us bright sounds for dark times, as it was written on the side of her brightly lit synthesizer.

Ela Minus
Listen to Austra in "Freepower", one of the tracks from their  latest album "Future Politics", as performed on Friday night at Fuzz Club:

Austra - Freepower, live @ Fuzz Club (Nov. 3rd, 2017)

The Dream Syndicate / Dustbowl (November 4th, 2017)

Last, and certainly not least, on Saturday night we had the pleasure of witnessing another mind-blowing performance by The Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn's legendary '80s Paisley Underground outfit whose reunion a few years back for a few concerts celebrating the 30th anniversary of their seminal debut LP "The Days of Wine and Roses" (see also here) has led to a brand new studio album this year, the excellent "How Did I Find Myself Here?", their first in 29 years!

The Dream Syndicate were as electrifying now, on the stage of Fuzz Club in 2017, as they have ever been in each one of their now legendary '80s shows in Athens, starting with their 1986 performance at Pedion Areos park, as their long-time fans (including myself) who were there then and now can testify.

The band, including also Dennis Duck, Mark Walton, Jason Victor and guest-starring Chris Cacavas on keyboards, expertly combined the new material with the time-proven classics from their previous four records showing beyond any doubt that true rock 'n' roll exists out of time.

The nearly two and a half hour set included nothing but highlights, starting with "Hallowing" off their debut LP and finishing with an astounding rendition of "John Coltrane Stereo Blues" from "Medicine Show" after two encores. Other honorable mentions that come to mind include "The Days of Wine and Roses", "Tell Me When It's Over", "Armed With An Empty Gun", "Burn", "Boston" which incorporated a snippet of Tom Petty's "Refugee", "The Side I'll Never Show" and from the new ones "Out of My Head" and "80 West". Another vintage performance indeed!

The opening act for The Dream Syndicate show was Dustbowl who contributed to the good rock 'n' role vibes of the night.

Here's "Out of My Head" and "Boston" from The Dream Syndicate show at Fuzz Club:

 The Dream Syndicate - Out of My Head,  live @ Fuzz Club (Nov. 4th, 2017)

The Dream Syndicate - Boston / Refugee,  live @ Fuzz Club (Nov. 4th, 2017)